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Vital City Zen: Don't Left Back In Anger


Well Blues, the statistics show us that City have exchanged what was generally defensive caution under Svennis (except for the odd mitigating factor created implosion) for what looks to be a "we'll score more than you" approach under Mark "Bluesy/Sparky/Leslie" Hughes!

We certainly need to shore up at the back in order to ensure that the terrifically exciting work done up front is not repeatedly undone as it was in the Liverpool throw away last weekend.

We've seen Keystone cops defending in some instances, but a statuesque inability to defend set pieces is the greater concern.

Now I might not be popular for typing this, but I suggest a defensive shake up is in order, certainly in January. Having studied video's of City goals conceded this season, I think Joe Hart needs a break. He's done a phenomenal job between the sticks and will be an England stalwart in the years to come. But, I don't think he is commanding his area or martialling his defence well enough at this stage of the season.

For a concerted push for a trophy to take place in the New Year, I reckon we need a top drawer experienced 'keeper who comes in on the assurance that Joe will take the gloves again when he's learnt more from him. Kasper Schmeichel has potential, but flaps too often and the League Cup defeat at Brighton showed he is nowhere near the prize asset he sees himself as.

Of course, the left back position is City's Achilles heel. Michael Ball all too often let's a game pass him by these days and Javier Garrido, a likeable bloke like Ball, is happy going forwards but frankly brutal going backwards. The sight of Richard Dunne or Micah Richards charging across to clear up for these two has become far too regular for comfort. Again, Bluesy has to move for a first class left back as soon as possible.

Micah Richards is still a man mountain for us but hasn't quite fired as we know he can in recent games. His partnership with the also not quite so steady Richard Dunne has been under the spotlight with many Blues for a while now and I for one would have liked to see Micah moved out to overlapping with SWP on the right but the arrival of the promising Pablo Zabaleta seems to have put paid to that.

So in conclusion, in the short term we know that Glauber Berti, yet to make his debut for The Blues can play left back. He has to be worth a run out. Outside of Tal Ben-Haim filling in where required or given an extended run, and Nedum Onouha and Shaleum Logan's continued absences, there aren't that many options available to the manager. However, the whole team need to work hard at defending as a team, protecting our defence and containing teams. But beyond that, I cite the signing of an experienced goalkeeper and a left back as January priorities, failing a dramatic upturn in defensive form.


This fortnight's break has given us the opportunity to set aside our disappointing league position and focus on our upcoming bizarrely organised UEFA Cup Group Stage campaign. What a marathon this competition is proving to be, packed with more than decent sides. Glasgow Strangers deserved some sort of a cup for reaching the final last season having played 19 games to get there!

With the fixtures and kick off times now confirmed, let's take a look at who we have to get past in order to make the last 32!

FC Twente @ The City of Manchester Stadium
Thursday, 6th November @ 1945 GMT.

Current Eredivisie Position: 8th out of 18

Internet: www.fctwente.nl

Steve McClueless returns to Manchester having now taken up the reigns at FC Twente following his pisspoor leadership of England. Having finshed 4th in the Eredivisie last season, Twente are in the UEFA Cup this season because they were thrashed out of the Champions League by Arsenal in the summer. City must contain their talisman and captain, Swiss centre forward Blaise Kufo who is their leading goal scorer over the past 5 seasons. If this game can generate a packed Eastlands, then I see no reason why The Blues can't see Twente off. They are hardly pulling up trees so far this season.

Schalke 04 @ The Veltins-Arena
Thursday 27th November @ 1800 GMT.

Current Bundesliga Position: 5th out of 18

Internet: ww.schalke04.de/index.php?id=762

This has to be the toughest fixture of the group. Schalke are an uncompromising side and backed by their packed, superb stadium will be a real force to be reckoned with. Ironically enough, their new Head Coach, Fred Rutton was McClueless' predecessor at FC Twente! Schalke ended last season in 3rd place and find themselves in the UEFA Cup having themselves been knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid.

Paris Saint-Germain @ The City of Manchester Stadium
Wednesday, 3rd December @ 1945 GMT

Current Ligue 1 Position: 11th out of 20

Internet: www.psg.fr

PSG escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and led by the far from confidence inspiring Paul Le Guen have started to nosedive again after a bright start to the current campaign. Their backdrop for many years has been one of boardroom unrest. That said, they have a big squad that includes the like of experienced journeymen like Ludovic Giuly and Claude MakÚlÚlÚ who is picking up bookings regularly. They'll be no pushover as no team seems to be in this competition, but City must beat the likes of PSG convincingly if we are to progress. One factor to bear in mind for the night is to watch out for some of their supporters. They have a big far-right white nationalist contingent that increasingly clash with their own multi-ethnic fans. Manchester Coppers, you have been warned.

Racing Santander @ The Estadio El Sardinero,
Thursday, 18th December @ 1945 GMT

Current La Liga Position: 14th out of 20

Internet: www.realracingclub.com

Racing finished 6th in La Liga last season and seem a steady side, yet just about the weakest on paper of the group. However, like all the sides City have faced so far in this campaign, they cannot be underestimated. Santander is a difficult place to go as the Vital MC archives proved with one of our Forum's teaser questions this week! The last Blue (maybe the first?)to play there was flying winger David White in his one and only England appearance in a friendly there in 1992. Whitey had been on fire at the time but when clear on goal missed an absolute sitter, consequently never playing for England again. Here's to that particular MCFC ghost being laid to rest as City set up a great Euro inspired Christmas for us all!


The kick off time of City's away game against Fulham has now changed to 12.45pm on Saturday December 6th after the fixture was selected for live broadcast by Sky.

Likewise, the home fixture against Spurs will now kick off at 3.00pm on Sunday November 9th.

Traditional Roy Race/ Hotshot Hamish Saturday 3pm kick offs? How about a new fanzine: 'When Saturday Doesn't Come.'

Independent City Fan Site Editor and Supporters groups nemesis Paul Tyrell has now left his position of 'Minister for Information' at SportCity.

The garish Orange er, 'Blaze' Luton, sorry City limited addition third kit is apparently selling well. In a marketing development, City have announced that they will ditch our classic Europe conquering red and black stripes in favour of the latest 'It's just not City' strip for both the club's away UEFA Group games. This correspondent for one isn't happy with this identity shredding episode.


Man City 0 - 1 Preston (Parkinson 71 pen) At Maine Road on 12-10-1998 Att: 28,779

Weaver, Edghill ,Horlock (Tiatto,65), Fenton, Wiekens, Vaughan , Whitley, Brown, Goater, Dickov (Allsopp,65), Bradbury
Subs not used: Crooks


'As I understand it, it's permanent that City will not release me but I hope not. I will do everything I can again in January to get away. I'd love to be loaned out but the club will not go along with that.'

- City's far from finished goalkeeping article Kasper Schmeichel goes to the press yet again proclaiming his worth.

'At no time has any Manchester City official, or anybody representing the club, contacted Fernando Torres, his representatives or Liverpool Football Club.'

- City Communications move swiftly again to dismiss the latest hack nonsense.

'Paris is a city that I love and they have a great project to win the league title. However, at (Manchester) City I have Robinho, who is a great friend of mine. But we will see, in the past few days we have spoken.'

- RonLardo just won't let it lie, continuing to talk himself up as a coveted target.

'I think what's killing us at the moment is the fact that there are a lot of games and people are starting to get tired already.'

- Good grief. Micah Richards reveals why our defence is hardly pulling up trees right now.

'Something has to be done about these billionaire owners.'

- Sepp Twatter starts to gob off where he failed to do so after the rags and Cheslki takeovers.

'If you bring people from Qatar and there is no-one from Liverpool or Manchester at the club, where is Liverpool or Manchester? Can we do something against it? I will try to. Do you want in Liverpool an Arab sheikh as president with one Brazilian coach and nine or 11 African players?'

- Panic sets in at FIFA as Michel Twatini wades in. Totally ignorant of City, and dare I say it, the rags clear commitment to promoting homegrown Academy players.

Newcastle United at Sid James' Park:
Monday, 13th October 2008 at 2000 GMT+1
FA Premier League

This will be no easy task as The Barcodes will have been worked on for another couple of weeks by sweary Joe Kin`ell. We can expect the potty mouthed rabble rouser to have them fired up in a bid to build upon their point at Everton. Match prediction next week.

What's your take on City's defensive frailty? Will we 'terrorise the cowards of Europe?*' Are Sepp Twatter and Michel Twatini talking bollocks? Give us your views in the Vital Man City Forums!

*Copyright the great Malcolm Allison

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: Johnny Baguette Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday October 11 2008

Time: 2:36PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Another great round-up from our very own Johnny Baguette. 100% correct evaluation of our development priorities. World class goalkeeper and left back needed urgently. But we simply must get through the UEFA froups before they are recruited. Won't be easy but will help enormously in attracting the quality players we need.
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 14:55:00

Get through the groups and we'll be on the map, in European terms. It will be tough, but I'd much rather worry over our UEFA opponents than worrying about the Premier League trap door, like in the past. Nice on JB!
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 15:12:00

Cheers fellas. Who's in your frame for a goalkeeper to bring Joe on? The way I see it, cometh the penalty shoot out, cometh the Buffon.
Johnny Baguette
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11/10/2008 15:16:00

Buffon is my first choice albeit I can't see him coming, if at all until the summer.
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 15:23:00

A lot has been mentioned about Shay Given I think he would be ideal and I don't think it would take much effort to prise him away from Sid James' Park.
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 15:30:00

Indeed Tudes, but never say never. The most crucial factor as Sindbad says is getting through these group stages. Buffon has of course the experience but also the right age to be around to bring the young lads through. I don't know how Harty has kept up his consistency over so many games.
Johnny Baguette
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11/10/2008 15:30:00

Good call, alphie! Shay wouldn't cost the earth either and would be linking up with Dunney and Ireland.
Johnny Baguette
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11/10/2008 15:32:00

Shay Given is a good call Alphie, and I think he would walk to Manchester to sign!
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 15:34:00

Buffon has played all of his domestic football in Italy. I wonder if the lure of a good pay-day might tempt him over here?
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 15:38:00

Good point Tudor. One thing about him is how he gets everyone going, especially the crowd and we can't have enough of that if we are to win trophies.
Johnny Baguette
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11/10/2008 15:41:00

The left back position will be a very tricky search. Any takers?
Johnny Baguette
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11/10/2008 17:23:00

Wayne Bridge? Taiwo from Marseille? Phillip Lahm? Patrice Evra?????
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 19:00:00

Definitely some options out there!
Johnny Baguette
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11/10/2008 21:21:00

Great round up JB exactly my thoughts about squad priorities. Although Im sure some work on the training ground could probably do the trick. Bring in an experienced, international, preferably world-cup winning GK. If we could get Buffon, brilliant. If older then so be it, and Shay Given would be good although it obviously would be good to aim higher. Left Back - who knows who would come. Im sure hughes has a hit list figured out and we won't know till its on the back page of the mirror. Hopefully they have been working hard on clean sheets during the break, and we will see a more balanced, yet still attacking side against the barcodes
Report Abuse
11/10/2008 21:42:00

Exactly, darryl28. The aim at Newcastle has to be to snuff out any sign of a revival early doors. Quite often, international breaks come along when you least need them, especially if you are in form, but for us this one is timely in that work needs to be done to arrest the defensive weaknesses.
Johnny Baguette
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12/10/2008 05:26:00

GK....I think there is a distinct lack of good keepers around at the moment, but I am sure MH has got one or two in mind.... LB....I fancy that Taiwo......big and strong, is also pretty quick too.......but I have been saying for a few weeks now....why hasnt Berti been given a run ?
Report Abuse
12/10/2008 08:00:00

It's a strange one, that. The only thing I can suggest is that he must be injured?, but didn't he turn out for the reserves?
Johnny Baguette
Report Abuse
12/10/2008 09:25:00

Apparently he put up a solid performance alongside Mee in central defence.
Report Abuse
12/10/2008 09:51:00

Bluesy might shake things up for The Barcodes.
Johnny Baguette
Report Abuse
12/10/2008 11:07:00


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